Bob McMurray: Summer of race meets
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With the Christmas holiday season almost upon us, the world of motorsport winds down to zero.
But fear not, there is light at the end of our motor racing tunnel and that light is the ‘Summer of MotorSport’, starting in earnest next month. For the second time the promoter is Speedworks Events.
Sure there will be complaints, as there always are, around the cost of entry, the parking, the organisation, the schedule, the food, the weather, but that’s to be expected. Some complaints take on the magnitude of an Olympic sport all of their own.
The main point surely, though, is that Speedworks Events is backing a motorsport weekend, all of the motorsport weekends of the season in fact, into events that people want to see.
A popular event with crowds means sponsors want to be involved; and sponsors mean bigger fields and more motor racing.
Speedworks has tightened up the event schedule in terms of timing and brought some new thinking to the events and it matters not what people may think of the personalities involved, the way things are now done, the classes racing or those that are not racing, at least somebody is doing something to get the sport out of the bickering and nasty infighting that seems to have been so prevalent in recent years.
And by the way, nobody else with any credibility has put a hand up to tender for the job.
There are multiple categories racing in the events around the country during the summer but surely the “jewel in the crown” has to be the Castrol Toyota Racing Series (TRS).
A now world-famous series that has promoted the careers of not just young Kiwi drivers but drivers from almost every continent who are now racing in virtually all of the major series around the world.
The TRS is a “feeder” series, an effective school of hard driving that prepares young stars for the tough world of European racing.
Many a major international racing team has sent young hopefuls to the bottom of the world to find out whether they have the mettle to go further in the sport. Many succeed, but just as many fail and realise that their dream of racing in Formula 1 will remain just that. A dream.
Of the current (2017) Formula One roster of teams, at least 10 drivers, either full time or reserve, have been in New Zealand for the Castrol Toyota Racing Series and obviously the most talked about at the moment is double world WEC champion and Le Mans winner Brendon Hartley from Palmerston North — driving for the Toro Rosso team. He epitomises the TRS motto of “Finding New Zealand’s Next World Champion”.
Toyota New Zealand has revamped its racing effort for the TRS and the TR 86 category as they lead in to the TRS’s 14th season.
Personnel changes, a newly established, modern, huge racing headquarters and a new management structure has seen the company increase its commitment, not only to the two Toyota Racing categories, but to motor sport in New Zealand in general.
Some 35 Toyota Racing staff and contractors will attend each of the events, and an increased budget confirms that commitment.
No other manufacturer has supported any form of motorsport in this country to this extent.
The series is a showcase for New Zealand with not only the influx of international drivers descending on the country for two months of our summer but countless other family members, international engineers and support staff to accompany them.
I can hear the comments now about how closely I am involved with the series and yes, I am the “Toyota Racing Ambassador” (and proud of it) and that is precisely why I do not write about the series too much, for fear of losing any objectiveness I may have.
However, the TRS is a valid, competitive internationally respected, home-grown motor racing series and demands to be talked about, watched and enjoyed live at our tracks, as it is on TV in many other countries.
So, have a good (and safe) Christmas and New Year, leave the road rage and racing where it belongs on the racetrack, then get along to enjoy the old days while they are still the new days.